Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Daytona State selected to vie for share of $1 million prize

Daytona State College is among 120 of the nation’s top institutions selected to vie for part of the prestigious $1 million Aspen Institute Prize for Community College Excellence.

The selection by the Washington D.C.-based think tank recognizes the effectiveness of the two-year academic focus that is the heart of Daytona State’s multi-faceted mission, as well as its track record in generating positive workforce outcomes.

“It is an honor just to be selected to be in the running for this prize, as it places us in the top 10 percent of the nation’s 1,200 community colleges,” said Frank Lombardo, interim college president. “But more significant, it is a testament to the outstanding faculty and student support staff who have dedicated themselves to teaching and learning at Daytona State.”

President Barak Obama announced the Aspen Institute prize late last year during his White House Summit on Community Colleges.  Colleges selected to join the prize competition must demonstrate that students in their schools gained knowledge and skills, completed degree or certificate programs and obtained jobs with competitive wages. Up to 10 finalists will be named in September this year, with the final prize winner and up to three runners-up to be announced in December, according to the institute’s website at The winning college will receive up to $700,000, while the runners-up will share the remainder of the $1 million.

In total, 14 member institutions of the Florida College System’s 28 colleges are in the running for the prize, the most of any state in the nation. The Florida College System includes two-year community colleges and those which were authorized to change their names and award four-year baccalaureate degrees when the community college system evolved by state statute in 2008 to form its current makeup. (Daytona State began offering its first baccalaureate degree in 2006 after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools formally designated it a Level II institution authorized to offer four-year degrees.)

The Aspen Institute selected the 120 institutions to compete for its prize based on a comprehensive review of publicly available data, including student success in persistence and completion, consistent improvement in outcomes over time, and equity in outcomes for students of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Daytona State has consistently ranked in the top echelon of Florida colleges in the areas of developmental math and reading, coming in number one and three respectively this past year. Approximately 75 percent of the college’s associate of arts graduates transfer to universities. Last year, the college ranked 10th nationally in the number of communications technologies technician and computer support services degrees awarded, and was in the top 50 nationally in the number of liberal arts and sciences graduates, associate degree in nursing graduates, associate of arts and associate of science in allied health degrees awarded. This spring, 1,943 students will graduate from the college, an all-time high.

The Aspen Prize is financially supported by the Joyce Foundation, the Lumina Foundation for Education, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.  

More information on the Aspen Institute and a full list of the 120 community colleges eligible to apply for the prize are available at